Social Policy in Parliament : National Diabetes Strategy

..by Terrance Hunsley

In January, a Private Member’s Bill was proposed by Liberal MP Sonia Sidhu. 

Near the end of March, the Bill passed second reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on Health for study. In introducing the bill to the Committee, MP Sidhu made the following comments:

  This year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin by Sir Frederick Banting and his partners at the University of Toronto. It was also at U of T that stem cells were discovered in the 1960s. These have led to promising research that may lead to a cure.

    Since Canada has been home to these great inventions in the fight against diabetes, we should also have a comprehensive strategy to help those living with this disease.

    We have 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes. The number of diagnoses doubled in the last 20 years, and every three minutes, another Canadian is added to this list. In my own community of Brampton, almost every sixth resident lives with diabetes or prediabetes.

    In my 18-year career as a health care professional, I saw patients with cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, amputations or high blood pressure and diabetes was frequently an underlying and complicating condition. That is why a strategy is so important. By effectively fighting or preventing one disease, we will make an impact on many others.

    When you consider the expense to the public health care system and to individuals living with diabetes, it represents a massive financial burden. Every dollar spent fighting and preventing diabetes means greater savings down the line.

    It is one of the most common chronic illnesses in Canada and the rate is only growing. Some Canadians are at increased risk of diabetes, such as South Asians, Black and indigenous Canadians. We also know that diabetes disproportionately affects Canadians with low income and education. Diabetes rates are three to four times higher among first nations than among the general Canadian population. Furthermore, indigenous individuals are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a younger age than other individuals.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Canadians with chronic diseases, including diabetes.

    For all these reasons, we need a cohesive national plan to respond to diabetes, one that coordinates funding for awareness, prevention, research and treatment, and that ensures equal access to treatment across Canada.

The proposed bill …coordinates funding for awareness, prevention, research and treatment, and that ensures equal access to treatment across Canada.

Three witnesses have appeared before the committee, representing Diabetes Canada and JDRF Canada.  All spoke in favour of the bill, and of a National Diabetes Strategy. The Committee may hear other witnesses and after consideration will make their recommendation to Government.

There is a good likelihood that this bill will pass. However, there is no indication at this time what amount of money might be attached if it passes. If you have an opinion on it or want to monitor its progress, you might contact your local MP

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